One of the most distinctive voices in 20th century literature, Sylvia Plath produced a body of work that redefined American poetry in visceral and achingly vivid terms. Having been highly influenced by the subject of death since childhood, Plath's first collection of poems, <i>The Colossus</i> was published in England where it was greeted with glowing praise in 1959. American critics, however, initially found her work derivative and pedestrian. The subsequent critical failure of her autobiographical novel, <i>The Bell Jar</i> (1963), coupled with the discovery that her husband, English poet Ted Hughes, was having an affair, sent Plath into a fury of writing that would produce the majority of the searing, scathing poems for which she would later be known. Just four months later, Plath was dead, having committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide. Posthumous publication of her work sealed her reputation and called for a reassessment of her earlier writing. Through the lens of her tragic death, Plath's poems were seen as articulate cries of fury from a struggling and stifled genius. Feminists, many of whom blamed Hughes' abusive behavior for Plath's death, saw her work and life as emblematic of the oppressed feminine genius. Her legend continued to grow with the passing decades, maintaining brisk sales of her work and inspiring the 2003 biopic "Sylvia," starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Though she cut her own life tragically short, Sylvia Plath's painfully lucid, confessional poems would influence generations of writers and establish her as one of the truly great literary voices.